The pathological consequences of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) latency in the nervous system are not well understood. To determine whether acute and latent HSV-1 infections of the nervous system are associated with oxidative damage, mice were inoculated with HSV-1 by the corneal route, and the extent of viral infection and oxidative damage in trigeminal ganglia and brain was assessed at 7, 90, and 220 days after inoculation. Abundant HSV-1 protein expression in the nervous system was observed in neurons and non-neuronal cells at 7 days after inoculation, consistent with viral replication and spread through the trigeminal and olfactory systems. Acute HSV-1 infection was associated with focal, neuronal and non-neuronal 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal- and 8-hydroxyguanosine-specific immunoreactivity, indicating oxidative damage. Rare HSV-1 antigen-positive cells were observed at 90 and 220 days after inoculation; however, widespread HSV-1 latency-associated transcript expression was detected, consistent with latent HSV-1 infection in the nervous system. HSV-1 latency was detected predominantly in the trigeminal ganglia, brainstem, olfactory bulbs, and temporal cortex. Latent HSV-1 infection was associated with focal chronic inflammation and consistently detectable evidence of oxidative damage involving primarily neurons. These results indicate that both acute and latent HSV-1 infections in the murine nervous system are associated with oxidative damage.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.